Gun control groups are tripping over one another in an effort to lay claim to defeating Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) on November 8, 2016, suggesting she lost because of her pro-gun vote in April 2013.
Two of the groups cited as beating her are Gabby Giffords’ Americans for Responsible Solutions, and Independence USA, which is “former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s political action committee.”
The Trace–a gun control journalism outlet funded by Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety–put it his way:
After her vote against Manchin-Toomey, gun safety advocates made defeating her a priority. Independence USA, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s political action committee, put more than $6 million toward that effort. Americans for Responsible Solutions, the group lead by former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, spent about $2.6 million opposing Ayotte.
On November 8, Ayotte fell to Governor Maggie Hassan, a Democrat, by just 743 votes, about one-tenth of 1 percent, in a race where roughly 700,000 votes were cast.
Ayotte lost — that cannot be disputed — but history suggests crediting a pro-gun vote with her loss is more than a stretch.
The 2014 midterm elections were the first big national elections after the Manchin-Toomey legislation had been defeated, and the result was the exact opposite of what gun control groups predicted. While the anti-gun lobby had expected that Senators who supported Manchin/Toomey would be rewarded at the ballot box, instead, Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) was defeated by NRA-endorsed Cory Gardner (R); gun control Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC) was defeated by NRA-endorsed Thom Tillis (R), and gun control Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) was defeated by NRA-endorsed Bill Cassidy (R-LA).
The important thing to note: Udall, Hagan, and Landrieu all supported Manchin/Toomey and they were not rewarded at the ballot box.
Other examples abound, but the point is clear: history does not support the gun controllers’ argument that opposing Manchin/Toomey cost Ayotte the election. It would be more accurate to say Ayotte cost Ayotte the election.
After all, late in the game — following the firearm-based terror attack at Orlando Pulse — Ayotte actually “cast a procedural vote in favor of…[a] proposal that would have added persons on the consolidated terrorist watch list to the roster of those prohibited from firearm ownership.” In other words, she voted for gun control. She even went so far as to co-sponsor a bill with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), framed as an attempt to close “the terror gap.”
Here is a problem Ayotte created for herself: the Orlando gunman was not on a terror watchlist. So adding the watchlist to background checks — even under the guise of closing “the terror gap” — would have done nothing. By supporting these gun control expansions, Ayotte showed herself eager to please everyone and, in the end, was rejected by both sides.
AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and host of “Bullets with AWR Hawkins,” a Breitbart News podcast. He is also the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.